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FactsheetJune 27, 2024

Inclusive Digitalization in Eastern and Southern Africa Program: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

What is the Inclusive Digitalization in Eastern and Southern Africa (IDEA) Program?

The Inclusive Digitalization in Eastern and Southern Africa (IDEA) program will increase access to the internet and the inclusive use of digitally enabled services.  With $2.48 billion in funding from the International Development Association (IDA) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), IDEA aims to bring together 15 countries and Regional Economic Communities to tackle challenges such as limited internet coverage, inadequate data infrastructure, low usage due to high cost of data and devices, limited digital skills, cybersecurity risks and data protection. IDEA will contribute to sustainable economic growth through long-term cost savings, efficiency, and productivity gains, fueled by greater digital adoption by citizens, businesses, and governments across the region.

IDEA will be implemented in phases over eight years with Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Malawi participating in the first phase. Additional countries and regional bodies are expected to join in the subsequent phases based on their eligibility and readiness. The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) will spearhead the regional coordination of the IDEA Program.

What will the program do in DRC?

The DRC Digital Transformation Project under IDEA aims to increase inclusive access and use of the internet and strengthen the foundations for digitally enabled services in the country. The $400 million IDA credit, with additional co-financing of 100 million euros from the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, AFD)— will be implemented by a new Project Implementation Unit under the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and ICTs and Digital (MPTNTIC-N).

"We have an ambitious vision for the country's digital transformation, aimed at modernizing technological infrastructures and fostering digital inclusion. Aligned with strategic axis 3.2.1 of the DRC Government's Action Program, this project should catalyze economic development, improve governance, and facilitate access to public services for all citizens, as well as the use of new technologies, including for rural and marginalized populations. The expected impact is a significant increase in administrative efficiency, greater transparency, and enhanced competitiveness of the private sector. All in all, this initiative promises to position the DRC as a dynamic player in the African digital economy, attracting foreign investment and stimulating local innovation."

Augustin Kibassa
Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and Digital Affairs of DRC

“The Digital Transformation Project will be critical to enhance access and use of the internet and strengthen the foundations for digitally enabled services in the DRC. This project will mobilize significant private capital investment and bridge digital connectivity gaps. These improvements will contribute to economic and human development, prepare thousands of youths with employable digital skills, stimulate digital innovation, and help meet climate goals and address key drivers of fragility.”

Albert Zeufack
World Bank Country Director for DRC

The project is structured around three technical components:

  • Expanding digital access and inclusion.  This component will finance the development of enabling frameworks and provide financing to mobilize private sector investment in broadband network infrastructure and digital inclusion in areas that are currently unserved or underserved, as well as expand government and higher education connectivity.
  • Introducing digital foundations for service delivery: This component will support investments in cross-cutting digital building blocks and trust services needed to expand digital service provision across DRC in a cost-effectively and secure manner, while supporting their re-use in a select number of sectors/services, particularly on the public sector side.
  • Increasing access to industry-relevant advanced digital skills & stimulating digital innovation: This component will provide foundational support for developing an advanced digital skills base and the nascent local innovation system to enable the productive use of technology in both the public and private sectors. Activities aim to stimulate technology adoption, development of new services, and access to jobs.

Who will benefit?

The project is expected to benefit 30 million people in DRC (of which 50% female)—as well as businesses, and public sector ministries, departments and agencies across the country—from new and improved access to broadband internet on the back of network rollout and regulatory reform, including quality and affordability gains. Further, 650 new communities will be covered by new access networks, and 1,000 public institutions will be provided with new or improved access to broadband. In addition, over 3,000 youth will be trained in advanced digital skills for employable programs, and 1,000 teachers in secondary education. The project will provide multiple solutions for interoperability, data management and hosting for digitalized services which will improve service delivery.

What is the role of COMESA?

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) will spearhead the regional coordination of the IDEA Program. As mandated, COMESA supports the creation of a common market and the enhancement of digital infrastructure, facilitating the transition towards a digital free trade area across most of countries IDEA will cover.

COMESA will support the enabling environment for regional digital market development and integration and create a platform to inform and mobilize investments for regional digital infrastructure. Activities will include, for example, developing regionally harmonized regulatory and policy frameworks, guidelines, and standards to promote digital access and usage; build capacity and support institutional strengthening for participating countries in a sustainable manner; and increase the efficiency and impact of the program activities by leveraging regional synergies between countries.